LEWISTON, Idaho – It often takes several games into a new season before baseball players get their legs under them.
The No. 8 Lewis-Clark State College Warriors seem to be firing on all cylinders straight out of the gate in 2013.
LCSC finished off its season-opening NAIA West Tournament with a doubleheader sweep on Sunday, coming back to defeat British Columbia 6-3 in the opener before pummeling Concordia (Ore.) 15-0 in the nightcap.
In its four games over the weekend, the Warrior pitching staff allowed just four runs and issued three walks, and its defense committed just two errors. Both of those stats are uncommon for teams so early in a season.
“It’s a credit to our players and the work they’ve put in,” Warrior coach Jeremiah Robbins said. “We knew we were going to have a short turnaround after Christmas break and our guys have been really focused day in and day out.”
Second baseman Brian Corliss went 5-for-9 with three runs scored in the two games Sunday, and infielder Brady Steiger went 5-for-7. Outfielder Jake Shirley hit his second homer of the weekend against Concordia in the second game and was joined in the homer column by Sako Chapjian.
In the opener, Lewis-Clark State broke a 3-3 tie with a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, and scored an insurance run in the eighth to salt away a victory and preserved a solid start by Cordell Greene.
The University of Washington transfer threw six innings of three-hit, one-run ball with five strikeouts and a walk.
Shortstop Ryan Sells began the rally with a one-out walk against new Thunderbirds pitcher Gabriel Lapierre and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Eric Peterson worked the count full against Lapierre, he also drew a walk and both runners moved up a base on a wild pitch.
Jacob Cano plated Sells on a fielder’s choice for the go-ahead run, and pinch-runner Kevin McLeod scampered home a batter later when Lapierre threw away a bunt attempt by Zach Holley.
Garrett Tygerson earned the victory in relief of Greene despite allowing the two runs that put UBC in the lead in the top of the seventh, and Sal Arena worked a scoreless ninth for the save.
“We came out a little bit flat in that game, but we responded when we needed to,” Robbins said. “We finished the game better than we started it.”
The nightcap was much less tense for the fans in attendance at Harris Field, as the Warriors blew the game open against Concordia with a nine-run sixth inning that saw 12 Warrior hitters come to the plate.
The big blows in the inning were the homers by Shirley and Chapjian, but Cody Lavalli, Stephan Adams and Steiger also drove in runs during the frame.
Garrett Wilson earned the victory on the mound for Lewis-Clark State, working six innings of shutout ball with four strikeouts. Steve Thompson worked the final three innings for his first save, and allowed just one hit and struck out two. Wilson and Thompson combined to no-hit the Cavaliers from the fourth inning on.
“It was a good way to finish out the weekend,” Robbins said.
LCSC returns to action next weekend when College of Idaho, Central Washington University and Concordia take to Harris Field for the Guardian Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Tournament.